Authorizers

A charter school authorizer (also known as a sponsor) is responsible for overseeing the operations of charter schools under its charge. In simple terms, a charter is a contract, and there are two parties to every contract. In the case of a charter school, the school’s board of directors is responsible for performing the duties and setting the goals set out by the contract, while the authorizer is responsible for making sure the board actually fulfills the terms of the contract.

One key feature of any state’s charter school law is “who can serve as a charter school authorizer?”
Having a motivated an interested authorizer is a key to the success of a charter school. Likewise, having one or more authorizers who will both oversee and support charter schools is essential for any state that wishes to take advantage of the charter school idea.

In some states, including Kansas, only local school districts can serve as authorizers. This is a problem, since some districts oppose charter schools, seeing them as a competitive threat. Still others may not be equipped (or have the incentive) to offer sufficient supervision to a charter school.

For this reason, some states have created other organizations to serve as charter school authorizers. Here are some examples:

See the National Association of Charter School Authorizers for more information on the role of charter school authorizers.

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